Saturday, January 3, 2015

Terriers outlast Samford, earn gritty SoCon victory

Things are not always as they seem.

Both the Terriers and Bulldogs experienced a taste of that sore reality on Saturday afternoon at Birmingham's Pete Hanna Center. Things started bleak for Mike Young's Wofford outfit, which entered the game aiming to get the league schedule off on a high note, as they fell behind early to the host Samford, helmed by first-year head coach Scott Padgett.

Wofford began the game shooting a dismal 10 percent (1-10) from the field, and had little else to show as the Bulldogs rode the energy stemming from both a four-game winning streak and a desire to score their first SoCon triumph of the season. After a true dogfight ensued in the first several minutes of the ballgame -- it was tied at four apiece at the contest's first stoppage -- Samford went up by as much as six points in the first half, successfully suppressing the visitors' cause.

That is, until the gritty Terriers ended the half on a 9-2 run, taking a slight 25-24 advantage at the half. However, Lee Skinner found himself in some foul trouble, and C.J. Neumann had to come off the bench to start the second half. It proved to be fruitful, as the Saint Paul, Minn., native set off a spark with the first four points of the period, which was rather in hand -- they led by a margin of thirteen points at once instance -- until a late Samford charge called Wofford's solidarity into question.

With the help of a few late free throws, the Terriers were able to withstand the rally and escape Birmingham with a hard-earned conference triumph. The margin of victory -- a mere three points -- was a bit too close for comfort, but at the end of the day, Wofford is 1-0 in league play and has another game to catalog and improve from.

Karl Cochran, who led the squad with fifteen points, joined good company as he tied Robert Mickle for tenth place on the program's all-time scoring list. "To show that your time [at Wofford] was not wasted," the senior spoke of such an accomplishment with the Wofford/IMG Sports Network, "that's pretty special."

The team equally benefited from strong performances from the usual starters -- as always, Eric Garcia displayed a great sense of toughness and determination, while Lee Skinner grabbed eight boards -- as well as those off the bench.

Mike Young, whose team currently stands at 10-4 overall, will be on the lookout for his 200th career victory when the Terriers continue the road trip with a Monday evening game at Chattanooga. The Mocs (8-6) have already played in one conference encounter, in which they disposed of The Citadel by a margin of 67-48.

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